May 29, 2004

Packed my bags and ready to go

Welp - they're calling my row. See you next time NYC! It's been an awesome vacation.

Come On (Eileen)

Woot to JetBlue for providing great service and free wifi here at JFK.

Last night I was at Princeton for Reunions. When I mentioned to folks that I was planning on hitting up my reunion while out here, I invariably got the same response: "What? Your college reunion?"

College reunions may be a rarer breed, but at P'ton it's a tradition. Wrapped up in the graduating ceremonies for the current class is a multi-day, drunken extravaganza for all sons and daughters of Old Nassau. It culminates in the P-rade - a march through the campus of all classes, lead by the superannuated Old Guard.

After some consideration, I've decided the whole thing is whack.

I'm all for the idea of running into old friends; certainly the best part of this trip has been spending time with so many folks from back in the day. In particular, I got to see a good chunk, tho' sadly not all, of the debate folks with whom I spent nearly every weekend. Partly as a result of spending so many weekends away from Princeton, I feel that going back to campus didn't resonate with me in the same way as it does for others.

But it's more than not having the same sentimental bond with the place because of time spent away. I found myself recoiling at the parts of Princeton which I was able to ironically dimiss when I was an undergrad ... the spirit of self-congratulation; the exaltation of the place for its abstract qualities alone.

Yes - this is a Caufieldian argument. And it's not as tho' 'phony' sums up all my feelings about Princeton; I loved it there and had the proverbial kickass time. But, walking around campus last night, all I could see were the places where I'd nearly had a nervous breakdown broken up by packs of middle age white men slapping each other around in celebration of the grand trajectories of their lives.

I'm sure in another 5 years, I'll see it differently still.

I will say that George's chicken wings are still very tasty and that Whig Hall is an awesome place to have as your own private clubhouse.

May 27, 2004

More silly rankings

I visited the Met today for the first time. In my book, it easily beats both the Louvre and the Prado.

It has the same "We've got everything, ever" vibe as the great European museums I've seen, but blows away the competition with stuff like Room with Giant Temple and Hey, Here's a Facade from a Building But Inside. Very cool.

Also, there was an Andy Goldsworthy installation on the roof.

By the way, the Cristo deal that's going to be going on in Central Park next year is going to be something to see.

May 26, 2004


The Baltimore Apocalypse as blogged by Ffoggy.


Chai tea is made with some sort of powder here rather than, you know, tea. I've had it from 3 different places and each time it's been this Swiss Miss Chai Mix.



The SoHo Apple Store is housed in a former post office giving it the coolest exterior of those I've seen (tho' I'm still voting for the Michigan Ave. Apple Store in Chicago for best evah). The wireless is also free ... I'm blogging this during a lecture on OS X which makes me feel like a bad student.

Yesterday, Steve and I drove down to Baltimore to catch the Yankees at Camden with Anna, Lauren and LEG. During my debate days, I drove up and down I-95 oodles of times, en route to Hopkins, UMBC, Georgetown and so on. Whenever we'd pass over into Maryland from Delaware, we'd see signs for the Decoy Museum in historic Havre de Grace. Many, many jokes about it being a carved, wooden museum.

Not so! Steve and I stopped by, and tho' it was closed, we could easily see the many cases of 19th century duck decoys. Seriously. I'm not sure what's going on in historic Havre de Grace, but, man, they *hate* ducks. There are poems on pedestals about tricking ducks into going after the decoys.

The hunter's ploy has worked.

For it was not real canvasbacks that lured the ducks, but well crafted decoys.

When we reached Baltimore, we heard that there were tornado warnings in surrounding counties. Giant, black thunderheads gathered over Camden and during the 2nd inning it began to pour.

I'd realized recently that I hadn't seen a serious thunderstorm in many years; I think there's been lightning once in SF in 4 years.

After last night, I've seen it all.

Saucer-sized raindrops forced our retreat to the top railing of the upper deck. That's when horizon-wide forks of lightning erupted over downtown Baltimore and thunderclaps rocked the interior of the stadium. Hearing thunder reverb off of the seats of a baseball stadium is quite the harrowing experience.

But not as freaky as noticing that the sky had turned green. As every midwesterner knows, green sky = windy death. I was seriously figuring how I could use the straps of my backback to lash myself to the handrails in case a tornado touched down on homeplate when we realized that the strange sky was due to the setting sun.

The storm passed, the grounds crew drained the 3 feet of water from the visitors' dugout, and the sun set spectacularly as the Yanks went on to win behind a monster A-Rod homer.

May 23, 2004


This evening Steve and I saw Jehane Noujaim's new documentary, Control Room. Noujaim first flick was, a big favorite of mine. (I find myself quoting "But I wanna name it" a bit too often around the office.)

Control Room is signficantly better. It documents the media coverage of the current war in Iraq from within Al Jeezera's headquarters and the US CentCom in Qatar. It's an amazing illustration of one of Robert McNamara's points in Fog of War - the need to empathize with the enemy. The US military repeatedly and continually refuses to understand why Arabs across the Middle East would react with horror to the death of civilians at US hands ... regardless of the brutality of Saddam.

That being said, there is an amazing scene in which a marine media officer reflects on how he felt at seeing images of the war's brutality. And another when an Al Jeezera correspondant confidently declares that he believes completely in the US Constitution and the American people to take it upon themselves to stop what it happening to Iraq.


In the spirit of proving him right, I think Rummy's on the way out. There's no way he can survive Chalabi being turned out as an Iranian spy. Steve and I were discussing who should be his replacement and we decided on McNamara. Basically, he's on this redemption kick anyway ... might as well give him his shot at pulling us out of this generation's Vietnam, caused by another Texan president.


My tour of famous, public WiFi hotspots continues ... Today's stop: Bryant Park.

This is a swell fusion of old and new. Bryant Park feels like an old world public commons - largely because it is. On my left, the Great Lawn stretches out to New York Public Library. On my right, 41st stretches out to Times Square. And in the middle ... hot & free WiFi. With tons of available tables upon which to perch your 'puter.

Good work Bryant Park. Someone needs to do this for Dolores Park back home.


And they say people in New York aren't friendly. I'd been here only a couple hours and found myself entrenched with a ton of former debate pals ... folks visiting from DC, others who had just gotten here, some I hadn't seen in 5 years. Good timing.

Incidently, things in the ole' debate world have taken a turn for the preposterous. Which is saying something because it is collegiate debate afterall. But while we may have been an astonishing group of obsessive dorks, no one ever created a debate fantasy draft.

This is sort of like if you've got a group of dorkfriends with whom you play Dungeon & Dragons, and all of a sudden they start getting into LARPing.

Also I hear that there was a musical.


May 20, 2004

How high's the water, mama?

Things are getting pretty dire over at my elementary alma mater. Mom reports from the front:

We are deeper in the stuff than we thought. The sewer collapsed and permits are needed to repair it. No school for us today.
A clear sign that I've been playing way too much SimCity 4 - my first reaction was to reach for the public utilities slider.

After Posted by Hello

Before Posted by Hello

May 15, 2004

Blogs save my day

I've been having this intermittent problem with my 15" PowerBook where it won't wake from sleep. I've asked various experts but been completely unable to figure it out.

Today I was clicking through Jason Sutter's blogroll and went to read Daring Fireball, which I check out infrequently. Basically, there're a whole host of sites I check out every couple weeks - these are the links in blogrolls of the sites in my blogroll.

Anyway, DF has a post about how he had this problem with his Mac and when he wrote it up, he wrote it not as a blog post for his blog readership, but for Google. "Or, more specifically, for people using search engines to find an answer to the same problems I had."

That's savvy thinking and the sort of thing that makes working at Google so cool. Folks understand how they can make the product better without even using the product.

But what's amazingly hot is that the problem he's describing is the freaking Mac-won't wake-up trouble I've been having for the last 3 months! And now it's hypothetically fixed (altho' if having a custom date format is what threw off the energy management thus Rip Van Winkling my Mac, that's odd).

And, of course, I found it not because of Google, but because of blogs!

And thus I learned why we were acquired.

Friday to Friday

So ... it's weird. I've got, like, free time now.

Last Friday, my mom came in from St. Lu and graciously sat around BloggerHQ as we sanity checked the Blogger release candidate. 'Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Wanna execute some test plans?'

A side story here. My mom enters the bloggerarium and there's a bunch of dudes hanging around. You know, the team. I say, "Hey guys, this is my mom - Mom these are the guys. Uh ... we also have some ladies but just not right here."

Chris Wetherdeal: "Yeah, it's a regular sausage factory up in here."


Had a great weekend with Mom - nearly distracted from thinking about work obsessively ... but you know, not entirely. Sunday happens. Sunday is amazing! And I've spent the whole of this week in some kind of bouillabaisse of stressed, joyful amazement.

And now things are creeping back to normal. It's no longer about the giant huge thing that's left to be done. So I need to find a hobby or something. I'm not sure if blogging counts.

Luckily, I'm going on vacation week after next. A week in NYC with side trips to various points on the eastern seaboard. I'm looking forward to catching up with old friends, both lanky and ffoggy. And just breaking away from the set of activities that, tho' immensely satisfying from a personal and professional perspective, have completely defined my life for the past little while.

May 11, 2004

Baseball Dork

I used to keep score when I went to ballgames.

Now I'm blogging from one.

I've somehow become an even bigger dork at the ballpark.

Luckily, I'm not alone.

Photo Launch

Sutter's got a nifty visual recap of the recent Blogger launch as seen from inside GoogleHQ.

Just to dispel some rumors:

  • My nipples aren't lower, they're just more vertically-extended.
  • The Korean Girls where neither girls nor sexy
  • Sutter's hobbit name is Sutter
  • We were most definitely kickin' it

May 10, 2004

The Morning After

Note to self: when checking to see how your site's doing after its big launch, verify you have functional DSL before going crazy-go-nuts.

May 09, 2004

Out with the old

New Blogger, new blog.

I'm thrilled to have this release out in the wild. In the last couple weeks, our team has really pulled together to get this new version out the door and I'm psyched launch day has finally arrived.

Update: I'm also coming down offa' wicked donut / adrenalin high, and apparently unable to write in more than the trite cliche. But I'm still psched.

May 06, 2004


Donna Hughes' take on the Abu Ghraib tortures is a perfect example of why I keep coming back to the National Review Online.

I thought to myself, "What spin can the NRO put on documented torture at the hands of US soldiers." I was ready for a claim that torture is a justifiable wrong or even a blanket denial of the evidence. But never could I anticipate the following stumble of logic:

  1. The torture of Iraqi prisoners is horrible.
  2. Hey, I once interviewed some European hookers who'd been abused. That's also horrible.
  3. Ergo, pornography is really what's to blame.

Seriously, that's the point of this article. Here are four consecutive, unedited tidbits:
The images from Abu Ghraib are trophy pictures. The sadistic MPs are shown posing, smiling, and gloating over their victims and what they have made them do.
I'm with ya', sister. Definitely bad stuff in those pictures.
Similarly, I found numerous offers on the Internet from pimps for men to bring cameras and video recorders with them to make trophy images and videos of their sexual use of women and girls.
Holy propositioning prepositions, Batman! But if the point is that there's weird sex stuff on the Internet, I'm with ya' there as well. A little unsure of the connection between your points, but let's press on:
Why are we shocked by these images from Abu Ghraib, but when the victims are women (or gay men) the images are called pornography or "adult entertainment"?
Wha? So, first off, it's weird that straight men can't be in pornography ... or maybe they just can't be victims of it. But second, she's gone and condemned all porn based on the site wherefrom pimps for men do tape of women having sex. What a slut! Here's the best one tho':
What if the Iraqi men had been forced to smile, could we be convinced that there was a newly formed "publishing and film production" company in Baghdad instead of sexual abuse and humiliation being perpetrated?
No! No we couldn't. Never would it occur to us that what happened in Abu Ghraib was okay if someone tried to pass it off as porn. That's like Pol Pot trying to pass off his skull collection as avant garde sculpture.

But, of course, the lesson of Abu Ghraib is all about porn.
These similar images are what the young American soldiers from the Internet generation have grown up with and learned to call "adult entertainment." Did they become desensitized to the harm of doing such things to people by seeing multiple images of similar abuse to women? Did they learn how to violate someone by being a voyeur to abuse, and in Abu Ghraib they had the chance to become perpetrators — and pornographers?
Obviously, yes. In the face of such compelling logic, how could you say otherwise. Hustler taught these soldiers how to violate basic human rights and the Geneva Convention. Cinemax gave them the hard heart needed to do what they did. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our unjust foreign policy and destructive occupation of Iraq, but in our porn.

Also, I think Howard Stern may have been involved.

May 02, 2004

McIntosh County Shouters


Both American and British troops are accused of torturing Iraqi prisoners. One difference between the two cases (besides, you, know, the uncontested photographic evidence of the Americans) is that Britain is now party to the International Criminal Court.

As explained by the Guardian, there is an increased burden on UK officials to get to the bottom of these allegations. The ICC "has the power to launch war crimes charges of its own against authorities including the commander-in-chief - the Prime Minister - if necessary."

So, Tony Blair is legally compelled to make sure a proper investigation is carried out lest he be forced to answer to The Hague. Nice!

This 'rule of law' stuff is starting to make good sense.

May 01, 2004

Terry underwear

We hung about the tenderloin and tenderly you tell

About the saddest book you ever read

It always makes you cry

The statue's crying too and will he may.
Not my favorite Belle & Sebastian lyric, but it was fun to hear it sung at the Warfield last night when CaseNotes and I waded into what has to be the one the more polite and cheery rock n' rock audiences around.

It reminded me a bit of a Sesame Street Live show - folks get very excited from the first chord of every song and actually cheer individual elements of the tune. "Woot! It's the trumpet bridge." Good times.

Of course, as the evening grew later, there was a bit of desperation in the voices of those yelling out their favorite songs. Not everyone's going to get to hear what they want. In particular, the tracks off If You're Feeling Sinister were all but unrepresented ... but Get Me Away from Here, I'm Dying was a quality closer.

And I loved the impromptu cover of the I'll Be Your Mirror with Stevie Jackson singing the part of Nico. This after the initial suggestion of a Morrissey cover was rejected with the reply, "Cover Morrissey? I'd like to cover him with a rug."